The Hot Italian sounds like a mid-70s hardcore take on The Godfather starring Jamie Gillis and Vanessa del Rio; however, in reality, it’s the latest meal-based mystery to pop up on various food delivery websites like Postmates, an unheard of dining establishment in the Oklahoma City area up until a few weeks ago…or is it?
Searching the address given—2520 N. Pennsylvania Ave.—I discovered that it belonged to my favorite pizza place in town, Pizza House. A down and dirty pie-parlor that I’ve been religiously using since my dalliance at OCU a couple of decades ago, with their crumbling brick façade and bullet-holed windows, I can see why they decided on a sexier pseudonym.
Looking over the menu, I figured that, with the big picture of spaghetti at top of the page as well as the already pasta-heavy menu of Pizza House, the Hot Italian would offer me a spicy meatball or two; instead, I was welcomed with a selection of various sandwiches, salads and sides like fries and onion rings. That’s not Italian!
Still, they made me an offer I couldn’t refuse because, having had a few of Pizza House’s perfect sammies before—the Jumbo Burger and Philly Cheesesteak are truly tops—I was extremely interested in trying a couple of these “Italian” variations, ordering a small selection from DoorDash.
As Italian as the Hot Italian is going to get, I started off with Mozzarella Sticks ($6.99). A visceral explosion of searing hot cheese entombed in a deep-fried shell burned my tongue to the point of minorly masculine tears; not the first time this has happened, sadly.
After allowing them to sit for a few minutes, the two or three sticks I had offered a mostly edible but very basic afterschool snack. The cool cup of marinara sauce on the side offered a mediocre dipping sauce that surprisingly had large chunks of tomatoes in it, which complemented the errant French fries I found under the cheese.
At first glance, the overflowing melted provolone might make the whole “health” thing moot, but the Veggie Sandwich ($8.99) truly is one of the Hot Italian’s better offerings. Past the melted hunk of cheese that bubbled out of the side is a firm bed of former pizza toppings, including mushrooms, green peppers, black olives, and tomatoes, situated on a hoagie roll.
A great example of foodstuff recycling, this green-ish effort works wonderfully, the tart vegetables and extraneous cheese coming together to make a sandwich that is more of an ingenious attempt to transform a slice of vegetarian pizza into a workable sandwich for the meat-free fatty. It mostly succeeds.
Finally, we have a sandwich that should scream Italian to me, the Chicken Parm ($8.99), but instead whimpers off in a corner somewhere to quickly harden; far dryer than it probably should be, the breaded chicken felt overcooked with hard edges that made swallowing somewhat unfriendly.
You’d think that the scoop of marinara and helping of mozzarella on top would make this easy to down, but it necessitated a minor microwaving and multiple gulps of water to finish. As I took the few remaining bites of the parm, I figured that, for the most part, the Hot Italian might be a decent sandwich place to order from, but I’d just cut out the middle-man and order a meatball sub directly from Pizza House instead.